Tank and the Bangas | photo by Alex Marks | courtesy of the artist

Two years after their NPR Tiny Desk Contest victory, Tank and the Bangas are back with a new single, “Nice Things”, off their upcoming album, Green Balloon. The album was announced last month and will be an exploration of the jazz-funk-soul group’s coming of age. Lead vocalist Tarriona “Tank” Ball says that Green Balloon is the sister to their previous album, Think Tank. Think Tank was 12,” says Tank, “and Green Balloon is 16 and having sex. She’s out there.”

“Nice Things” is emblematic of this musical maturity. In the live performance video, Tank raps about how her lover should do “nice things” for her, like buying her ice cream and opening doors. It’s a bold and whimsical track that leans into Tank’s famously vivacious personality. Throughout the song, her voice oscillates from high highs and low lows, peppered with interjections of “aye aye!”, which an atmospheric synth and light-as-a-feather flute float in the background. Tank and the Bangas are beloved for the multiplicity. Every song is an adventure, and Tank herself is known for her impressive balance of cartoon-ish persona, skilled rapper, and deeply soulful poet.

In their Fallon performance of “Nice Things,” Tank switches from bubbly to commanding. Decked out in a zebra print jacket and matching shorts, Tank adds an opening verse to the bubblegum-sweet song: “This boy be in my DM at 2 a.m., saying I look ‘real beautiful today.” Saying what he could not say in the daytime, like showing a black girl love can only be in the night time.” With this addition, “Nice Things” takes on a powerful resonance. In this performance, “Nice Things” is a song about a woman demanding the respect she deserves. Tank’s accompanying musicians, Joshua Jackson (musical director/drummer), Merrell Burkett (keys), Norman Spence (bass), and the unforgettable Albert Allenback (sax and flute), take up her tone shift with precision, and each version of “Nice Things” sparkles with unique flair.

With these two contrasting performances, Tank and the Bangas have proved themselves to be band that must be experienced live. Their dedication to the New Orleans jazz tradition mixed with a love of experimentation makes for a truly spontaneous show that is different every time. Luckily for Philadelphia residents, Tank and the Bangas will perform at the Roots Picnic at the Mann on June 1; tickets and more information on that concert can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Check out Tank and the Bangas’ new single, “Nice Things” below as well as their Jimmy Fallon performance.